Timecode Mismatch – June 20th, 2009

I’ve run into a post-production issue and I need to call upon the hive mind for help.

My film was shot on the HVX200 @ 1080/24pA (23.98) and the audio was recorded into a Sound Devices 702T as Wave Files (WAV). We jam synced both devices and also used a timecode (TC) slate. We then fed the audio out of the 702T and back into the HVX200 via the camera’s XLR inputs.

As the footage was transferred from the P2 cards and ingested into Final Cut Pro (FCP), we ended up with clips that had one video track and four audio tracks (a doubling of our stereo audio feed from the 702T, I believe).


Now, I was always told that I’d need to take my FCP ingested clips, rip out the four tracks of audio, import the original stereo 702T WAV files, sync audio to picture, lock the new clip and repeat until done. Why do this? So I can use the “better” audio.

For anyone that has ever had to sync hours of footage, you know this sucks big time. But that’s why we jam sync the TC; it’s supposed to make this whole procedure less painful. Plus Sam from the Confidence Bay showed me an awesome way to use QuicKeys to cut tens (if not hundreds) of hours out of this process.

Perfect. I’m ready. I’m excited. I’m dying to sync all this footage so I can hand it over to my new kick ass editor.

Just one problem: the audio and image use two different TC counts.

The WAVs use a 24 (23.98) TC count (check out the TC in the top right window).



The HVX200 footage, well, that’s a complicated story. If I recall properly, 1080 24pA DVCproHD footage is recorded to the P2 cards as 29.97. Then, in FCP, you ingest using the advanced pulldown setting and TADA, you have 23.98 clips. Unfortunately, what I found is that the 23.98 footage still uses a 29.97 count. I kid you not. A 23.98 clip counts up to frame 29. The TC doesn’t convert to a 24 count.



And here’s the proof that 1) the clip is 23.98 and 2) that the sequence is set to cut 23.98 footage.



Do you see my problem? I have one chunk of media that counts from 0-23 and another that counts from 0-29 and I’m supposed to use their respective TC to sync them together. “00:00:00:27” in the footage is “00:00:01:03” in the audio. Without resolving this discrepancy in counting, I can’t see a way to have FCP automatically sync the audio and image via TC.

How do I easily resolve this so I don’t spend the next month syncing my footage? Is there a way to resolve this discrepancy without 1) a massive re-ingesting of all the footage or 2) paying for some expensive hardware transcoding? Should I even bother with this now? Is the the audio routed from the 702T to the HVX200 via XLR that much worse than the original WAV files? Would it be simpler to just clone a drive for my editor now and deal with this problem after I’ve locked the cut? This violates the “5 minutes now saves you 5 hours (or days) later” rule I learned from my buddy Ken but maybe this is one where I just have to suck it up and sync the WAVs to the edited picture (that might take a month as well).

Thoughts? Questions? Solutions?

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4 Responses to “Timecode Mismatch”

  1. Yeah, you time code voodoo is an important thing to make sure you have all lined up and tested all the way through the process before day one preferably. The HVX200 records at 29.97. You do the conversion on import and that discards the extra frames, but the “source file” is still that 29.97 file with the extra frames. If you needed to go back to the original source and look at a certain frame, you’d be in a 29.97 world, not a 24fps world.

    Usually, I end up just going ahead and keeping in the 29.97 realm if things get wacky like this. Some cameras, like the Red One, will let you actually lay down 24fps, like the Red, but you have to consider the lowest common denominator on this stuff and use what all the gear will commonly allow if you want a smooth ride.

    That said, you might try using a 29.97 time for syncing. I believe FCP will throw in the extra frames if you’re dropping 24 footage on there. Sync up a clip, select the audio and video and group them together. Pull that into a bin and see if it’s a 24 clip or a 29.97 clip at that point. If it’s 24, then there you go. If it’s 29.97, then consider editing at 29.97.

    I usually just do a bunch of trial and error till I find something that works in these situations. Just remember that the person watching won’t have a clue about the mathematical dilemma you’re in. All they know is pictures and sound and story. If the picture and sound are in sync and there’s no annoying jittering or other SNAFUs going on, then they won’t care how you got there.

  2. OK, I really need to read before I post. Several typos in there, but you get my drift. =)

  3. Karen says:

    Any way that you can set up to sync to a 00 frame?

    My (feeble) understanding is that audio files don’t have a frame rate until you bring them into FCP, so you would need to bring them in with your sequence preset at 23.98. A second is still a second… until they are in a sequence – when a frame is a frame is a frame, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein.

    I used to set up Cinema Tools as if I were syncing audio at 29.97 to my 23.98 clips, just so that I could easily check the TC burns on film, and they would always match at 00.

    But then nothing is true until tested. I’ll be curious to hear what happens. I’m sure a way will be found…

  4. Shane Ross says:

    Karen is right I believe. I haven’t had to deal with second system audio in FCP yet, but I have with Avid. Same thing with an Avid…dailies on Digibeta at 29.97, sound on DAT at 23.98 to match the film rate.

    All you need to do is synch to the 00 frame. That will be the same on both, no matter what.

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